time flies when you’re living life


So, I turned 26 a month ago. How did that happen?
In early June, I started thinking about my “30 before 30” list…and how much I’ve accomplished, and how little I’ve accomplished at the same time. So much has changed since I last updated the list (freshly updated, btw)!

So much has changed, and yet I was thankful for this list; it serves as a good reminder of a) my 23 year old self and her desires, b) the fact that many of these things are still at the core of who I want to become as i get closer to 30 and c) the fact that life moves quickly, and it’s very easy to wind up without as many accomplishments as you’d hope.

So these are the things I’ve been thinking about in the months before and after my 26th birthday.

The single-most thing I am loving about my twenties is that I’m really learning a lot about myself. I love it, because I’ve never been so confident in who God made me. I think I got pretty lost in my own expectations of myself for most of my teenage years and early twenties. At this point in my short life, I’m officially in my upper twenties and almost every expectation I had for my life to this point has been completely slashed.

So I’m left without any more expectations (which, by the way, felt terrible when those were in the process of being ripped from me) but it’s really quite freeing. I’m just free to grow and be myself.


our first Seattle beach experience. warm sun, freezing cold water.

And with that realization in hand, I look at my little list and smile, because much of the list still accurately represents me as a person. I love that. When I wrote the list, it was with an air of dreaming and whimsy – so I’m thrilled that many of these things are who I’m growing into, because back then…it was only somewhat of a dream.

Using some items on the list, here’s a little life update for you – since it’s been so long since I’ve updated the blog.

We’re working toward paying off our debt, we had none, but then we decide to by a nice, almost new commuter car after we moved to Seattle. We’re hoping to be able to pay it off completely within about a year.


family hike day on hurricane ridge

While paying off our car, we’re also saving for a down payment on a house, which could take a while depending on how we end up buying a house. Houses are so. stinking. expensive. here. But rent is also expensive. We’re currently occupying 3+ rooms in Bryan’s parents house and it’s been really great to be able to save a bunch of money in the meantime.


5 year anniversary date!

We crossed over the 5 year line of marriage back in May – and what I’ve also realized is that it feels like we’ve been in transition for over 5 years as well. College, transferring colleges to help plant a church, moving across the country, the beginning of Bryan’s (slow-climbing) career. Yes, transition seems like a fitting word, don’t you think? But, of course, now I’m realizing that life will always, always, always feel like transition, even with miniature calm moments. So I’m starting to be done defining life as such.


my hair is finally long enough to start practicing my french braiding skills. this is one of my first goes.

I continue to be ambitiously crafty, but I still feeling like I have a lot of growing to do there as well. I can pretty much knit or sew anything now, but now I’m left to the decisions of what I want to knit or sew. I’m slowly figuring out my aesthetic when it comes to these things and I’m working on “my eye” for design, which hasn’t been extremely strong up to this point.

Overall, life is good. So very good. We’re enjoying each other, enjoying Washington and enjoying the ride of adulthood.

we’re staying in iowa city!


the fact is actually kind of old news for us, but i realized that i should probably update you all since you so faithfully read and supported me through my time of emotional explosions. sorry about that, i can’t realistically say it’s going to end anytime soon.

as you remember, since last october really, we were considering our job options in seattle after bryan graduated. [oh yeah, bryan graduate from college! that happened too!] in april and may, he began interviewing at many different companies, a few in seattle, and several in iowa city, too. then he left for china, and everything he started was put on hold. then i left for china. then we came back together.

almost as soon as we got back, bryan started studying for his life insurance license exam. it is a required licenses for most companies, so he was getting a head start.

all in one day, july 10, here’s everything that happened:

we received bryan’s diploma in the mail! it felt pretty official-he graduated from college!

bryan called jim in seattle, to see if he had made a decision about hiring bryan. basically, jim liked him, but it didn’t seem possible to make room for a new financial advisor on his team. that was the main job bryan had a shot for in seattle, so the door to seattle was basically shut at this point.

bryan had a two hour interview with northwestern mutual. bryan was super nervous about the interview, not because he didn’t have confidence in himself, but more because he really wasn’t sure if this job would be the right fit for him. he was basically afraid that he would get offered the job, but not want to take it.
we both had a great time with God as he prayed it out on his drive to cedar rapids. we knew seattle was out and we knew God would provide a great opportunity here in iowa city. bryan absolutely had the freedom to not accept the job and keep looking (that freedom was afforded to us mostly because we don’t have any school debt). we gave it to God, trusting that He would guide us.
when i received the call from bryan, i honestly didn’t know what he was going to say. when he started gushing about how great the interview was and how he got a perfect score on one of the tests and how they were really fighting to hire him and really seemed to want him. i was a little bit shocked to hear him completely change his demeanor about the job. immediately, i knew. we’re staying in iowa city.

i called my mom, she screamed. i called holly, she screamed (and i heard all of her kids scream too). i told the salt staff (i was a salt), they were all pumped. i texted some of my other friends who i knew were waiting just as much as i was. it was a fun night.
the majorly bummed out pair was bryan’s parents, who were obviously pulling for seattle-i’m still a little sad we won’t be living near them!

two days later,  bryan passed his life insurance license and officially accepted the job. since then, he’s passed his health & accidental license and started his training with northwestern mutual. he’s officially a working man again, going into the office everyday. we even got him some dress clothes at goodwill and a new lunchbox to celebrate.

so i went to china. [the God thing]


yeah. that actually happened!

i’m really going to try to keep this short and readable, so it might turn into a couple different posts.

let’s start this blog out with a bold statement: two days after i arrived in china, i told bryan i would move there if he wanted us to. 

those that walked through these last 8-9 months with us know that one sentence is exactly why i needed to go to china. eric & holly (aka the best connection group leaders in the world) said that almost immediately after we got back.

here’s a little background. i took perspectives. it completely opened my eyes to God’s heart for the world and totally shook my view on the Bible and God up. i loved it.

the class in no way made me want to go overseas. not even a little.

but it did stir my heart for the nations, and i began to support others with prayer and money with excitement. i was 18, working a fulltime job with no plans of going to college. and i wanted to be a wife and a mom. i remember saying that i didn’t have any desire to go overseas myself, but i think i would be more willing to follow someone overseas (in other words, i want to get married and if he wants to go overseas, well, i guess i would consider that).

well, easier said than done.

last semester, God did A LOT in my heart regarding following my husband. a lot. it was the source of a lot of my tears, anguish, and worry. but God was working and just like Elizabeth George in A Woman After God’s Own Heart, i was fully prepared to receive a call from bryan while he was in china asking me to move there and say, “yes!” ha. hahahaha. hahaha.

actually, i thought bryan was crazy for even thinking we could move overseas. what would he do? what would i do? when would i get to have babies?


i know, i know, i wasn’t exactly the picture of an awesome wife. i was more like, sure, go to china, i’ll stay here and cry until you get back.

i just needed to go. and here’s what God showed me:

my husband KILLED IT. and by killed it, i mean, SAVED IT. because he was a part of saving eternal lives. and he was really, really good at it. he was bold, direct, honest and loving. and his impact was great.

i actually love asians! it’s not that i didn’t love asians before. it’s just that i didn’t love them NEARLY as much as a lot of my other friends. i think i was a little intimidated by my dear friends who are simply put, obsessed with all things asian. i was all, “if that’s what loving asians is, i’m out.” but God provided such sweet girls and guys that it was impossible not to fall in love with the people and culture there.

the fact that bryan went for five weeks and i went for one was just perfect. bryan had a enough of life there to become a little more grounded and a little less idealistic about overseas life. he got a realistic idea of what it would be like (somewhat), talked to the long-termers about their struggles, vision and advice, and had good days and bad days there.
and i went for one week and was prettily easily sold on the idea. i was all, “I LOVE THE FOOD. I LOVE RIDING BUSES. I LOVE SWEATING. I LOVE THE PEOPLE. I LOVE THE FOOD.”


thanks Father, we really appreciate it.

[as a point of clarity for the sake of our moms, we currently do not have plans to go to China at this moment. more on that later.]

coming up…
so i went to china [the experiences]

so i started running.


right now it’s midnight, and i’m still up because my husband is driving back from chicago and i’ve got some nerves about it. those nerves are apparently turning into adrenaline which is fueling this writing spurt. lucky you.

normally it wouldn’t be a big deal that i am up this late. but it is a big deal because i’m looking forward to a 5:35am wake up call…to going running. by my own choice. my eyebrows are furrowing in confusion too.

here’s the story:
in late march, i got a call from ashley, one of the pastor’s wives from veritas. she told me about this idea she had to start a run/walk club this summer and how all of our veritas ladies would get together and run/walk and get fit and we’d all do a 5k at the end of the summer.

sidenote: as the very general “coordinator” of a church, i get to hear a A LOT of these “ideas.” and really, they usually mean, “lisagrace, here’s something else i’d like you to magically organize and make awesome like you do.” but you see, ashley is awesome (not JUST because she remembered “administrative professionals day” and made me a heart shaped sucker). no, ashley is awesome because she read my mind. she was all, “you won’t have to do anything.”


this is me after a run, my face is way more red than instagram makes me look.

well, anyway, i was excited about this little club, because although i look skinny and tall and athletic, it’s all a lie. so i went the first week and told my friend kaylee to make me run.
needless to say, it ended in me, keeled over and gagging, while kaylee ran ahead because she was so grossed out.

the second time wasn’t much better. nor the third.

but i’m pretty competitive and i was going to run without almost dying! and after hearing about it a bunch on facebook and all that jazz, i decided to download an app on my phone. and it’s working. the app is called 5k Runner or “Couch to 5k.” i was convinced by the name, because i was all, “hey i like couches and sit in them a lot currently.”

i hated running (and almost all forms of exercise for that matter) for a long time because i wasn’t good at it, i always quit too early because i felt like i was going to die, and i never knew how to breath while exercising.

but this little 8 eight week program is all i needed apparently. that and an iphone. here’s how it’s helped and made me believe that i can run a 5k.

  1. it starts off really easy, which made my ego shoot through the roof
  2. i don’t have to think about it, all i have to do is run until my phone buzzes in my hand. then i walk until it buzzes. and all of sudden, i just ran for 8 eight minutes straight and i am in shock.
  3. it’s not distance, it’s time. i can go as slow as i want, as long as i’m still running. i take advantage of that as much as i can. i believe my friend sarai calls it wogging (walking+jogging)
  4. it’s pretty much a built-in idea that you pace yourself and that is what improved my breathing the most. it still takes some focus, but my breathing is much improved and i don’t gag anymore!
i actually also have a really spiritual post in my brain related to running, but i’ll save that for another time. 



my latest self discovery is that i am a perfectionist. but i’m kind of a weird version of a perfectionist, because i’m also a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind-of girl, which often warrants a lot of imperfections.

the perfectionist part of me can.not.handle. too much. which is what my life is right now. bottom line: if i can’t do everything perfectly, i don’t want to do anything at all.

and the worst part, the part that gets me in trouble, is that i want to do EVERYTHING. it’s not just that life has given me a lot to do right now (which is part of it), but it’s also that there are just so many things that i like and even love doing! so i say yes, yes, yes, and more yes…and then (you can probably guess) i end up crying in yet another staff meeting and this time it’s all about how hard it is to be a wife and have a job and do every hobby and hang out with every person that i would like to.

and while in the past week my life has actually had somewhat of a routine to it, and i’m actually doing things i should and want to be doing, there is still so much i’m not doing and i’m just trying to sort it all out. sheesh. it’s time for me to make a list. or several.

help people with crafts.
spend time with people.

making dinner.
grocery shopping.
having energy to love and care for my husband.
helping my husband with whatever he needs.
cleaning my house.

reading the Bible.
journaling to Jesus.
confessing my sin.

painting my bathrooms.
fixing all the slightly damaged clothing we have.
getting our back door fixed.
continuing to de clutter.

being a good friend.
being a good family member.
staying calm and collected under stress.
convincing bryan to get me pregnant.

right now. i’m working on ‘write.’ we’ll see what i get to tomorrow.

i haven’t been crazy for nothing.


maybe you’ve been reading this blog for the past couple weeks and thought to yourself, “why is this lady so cray-cray?” (that’s the cool way of saying crazy, and i know that everyone who reads this blog is super cool.) or perhaps you’ve thought, “what’s her problem and why does she cry so much?”

i completely understand. and i would like to explain myself. my friends have asked me (after i cried all over them), “what’s wrong with you?!?!” many times, so i pretty much have the answer down-pat.

what’s wrong with me? everything.
or, in short, a trifecta of huge things.

#1. work.
i love my job so much, and i love being great at it. but right now, that means working really hard, stressing myself out so much, and overextending every part of myself. i’m totally cool with it, but i may or may not have had a few breakdowns in front of the entire staff team about it. whatevs.

#2. the impending 76 days without my husband.
i’m really trying not to think about it. but bryan and i have been having so much fun together lately. we’re growing together, laughing together, making fun of each other. our relationship has never been better and that usually makes me think about how much i’m going to miss him this summer. and from what i’ve heard, this is the worst part, the waiting and anticipation. i really think i’ll be fine when he’s gone, but i can’t keep my mind off the fact that he’s going to be gone.

#3. the job hunt and possible move across the country
this isn’t something i’ve blogged about yet, so for those of you who don’t know, we’re strongly considering moving to seattle, wa after bryan graduates and gets back from east asia. crazy, huh?! maybe it’s the coffee on an empty stomach, but i’m jittery just thinking about it. the biggest stress about this is that we may not even know until august that we’re moving. in august. the thought of deciding to move and moving all in the same month is really overwhelming to me. we could totally decide to stay too, but this is the biggest decision we’ve ever had to make in our marriage together, and the future is completely grey right now.

so there you have it, i’m extremely stressed out because my mind is always on one of those three things right now. if i’m not thinking about everything that needs to be done for work, i’m thinking about everything that i want to be doing to prepare for a possible move across the country, or i’m thinking about how i’m going to be completely alone this summer, or i’m thinking about how i don’t actually know anything that is to happen in the next 6 months of my life.

so i beg you for prayer. please, please, please pray for us. we desperately want God to share His vision with us in all of this. we want to see our future through His eyes, and make each decision in light of that. God has already been good to unite bryan and i all the more throughout all of this. pray that we would continue to glorify God with our marriage and in our ministry. and if you want to add more to your prayers for us, please prayer that my mind doesn’t explode with anxiety or stress, because there are days when i’ve come close to brain explosion.

lately, my life…


Lately, my life has consisted of driving. Driving a total of 12 hours to Ames and back three different times in one month. Driving to pick up my friend Morgan, driving to Starbucks, driving back home and then back to campus to take Bryan to school and then driving to work-all before 8am. Driving to Coralville with my friend Kaylee to go to Target because we hate Walmart so much. Driving to Riverside, IA to help my friend Sarah finish touching up her new house. Driving to Atkins, IA to wedding dress shop with my friend Layla.

Lately, my life has consisted of work. Working to completely move in to our new offices. Working to catch up on everything I put off during the month it took to move into our new offices. Working on all the extra stuff that comes with a new year or a new semester or new responsibilities. Working on improving myself and getting better at my job. Working to keep my email inbox to under 50 emails.

Lately, my life has consisted of purging. Purging everything we don’t need or use. Selling everything we no longer want. Getting rid of all things broken or cluttered or useless. Purging unhealthy eating habits. Purging my undisciplined ways.

Lately, my life has consisted of crying. Crying at the sight of my freshly engaged best friend (happy tears). Crying out of frustration or anger or stress. Crying out of sorrow for those that have lost loved ones.

Lately, my life.

back on the blog horse


here’s an interesting fact, i’m writing this blog without a working delete key. it’s my own fault of course, i knocked over my hot chocolate yesterday. while i was lucky enough to get only a few drops on my laptop, those drops landed on the delete key. i wish it would have been the “\” key instead. bleh. we’ll see if i can get through this blog without getting so frustrated that i want to throw my macbook up against the wall. because that would only make things worse.

if i can’t fix it, i’ll just have to get really good at the “highlight and replace” method that i’m currently using  as a form of deleting. it’s that or suddenly becoming perfect at the art of type.


you may have noticed that i took a little break after a couple weeks of crazy blogging and giveaways. i hope that was okay, i was a little burnt out. but it was so much fun to give stuff away and write about things that get me really excited.

you also may have noticed that i’m back on the blog horse this week, with the usual posts and such. i’m reserving the thursday time slot for random thoughts of mine, because blogging can be a nice way to write out some things i’m thinking about.

i don’t actually know if the haiku tuesday thing will last, but i’m really into haiku’s right now. i think they’re the next trendy thing.

i really want to start craft of week again, but time for crafting has been so elusive for me. on the other hand, i’m pretty sure that’s the most popular segment of this blog, so i think i’ll try to make it a higher priority.

so that’s what’s happening on the blog. and that’s how my thoughts come out when i’m not trying very hard. two sentence paragraphs with no flow.

here’s to hoping i can get my delete key fixed in a timely fashion!

august tuition update


we’re $157.76 further away from our goal than we were at the end of july. and i’m okay with that. [shout out to the Big Man upstairs for that!] here’s the update, read on for a more detailed account of the crazy month of august.

total tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
total tuition paid so far: $2,090.00
savings at the end of august: $1,476.60
difference: $6,087.40
percentage saved: 37.96%
percentage left to save: 63.06%

at the beginning of august, we had a broken back door, a broken dryer, and a broken moped. my first paycheck was quite a bit less than i was expecting it to be (i assumed it was taxes). and i told bryan that i wanted to be prepared to empty our entire savings account if God asked us to. [He didn’t, by the way]

throughout august, it became apparent that this was another month to carry our checkbook around with us and trust in God’s provision. we have a friend fighting cancer, a friend going to kenya [and working hard to support adoptive families!], a friend going to the dominican republic to rescue children off the street, and a friend who just moved to iowa city who needed a place to stay for a few weeks.

we didn’t want to miss those opportunities God was giving us to give.

we haven’t fixed our door yet [because the duct tape seems to be holding up] and we haven’t fixed our dryer yet [because the clothesline is perfect for summer]. we did get the moped fixed, so bryan can easily get to class. we still need to put at least $613.40 in our tuition savings sometime this semester. the exact amount of loans we’re taking out this year is $5,474.00.

the month ended with a little gift from my parents, bryan’s grandparents [yet again] paying for all of his textbooks, and my paycheck being more than last months. we once again experienced joy in giving, and joy in being astounded by God’s provision.

Lord beer me strength


right now i’ve been experiencing a little thing i like to call insecurity.
it’s awful.
if you know me at all, you know i come from a family that is extremely self-confident and secure. my mom is a great example of this attitude that has affected most in my family. the duvicks are simply confident people, everyone knows that.

it’s not that i’ve never experienced insecurity before. trust me, i have. but this is different some how. it’s a crippling kind of insecurity, the kind where i find myself saying “i can’t do this.

i’ve always been one to buck up and getter done when faced with challenges, i’ve never found myself so scared to face challenges.

before you start to feel sorry for me, let me redirect this post: this is a really good thing. once again, i find myself 12 years after accepting Christ into my life and yet only scratching the surface of understanding Him. i’ve had some very real moments with God. i’ve had to surrender these fears in a very real way. once again, the fact that i can’t do this is being made real to my hard heart.

i can’t lead an international student to Christ.
i can’t effectively disciple a college girl.
i can’t give perfect and wise counsel on how to budget.

i really can’t do those things. they’re too big for me. too scary for me. those things are crippling to me.

but God? oh, He can do those things. He doesn’t have any problems with those things. and what’s more is that He can use someone like me to do those things. i have no talent for evangelism, i have no good track record with discipling, i can do my own budget but teaching is another story.

but this year, it’s different. because i joined a family group, a bible study for internationals. a friend asked me to disciple her and i said yes. another friend asked for wisdom with money.
in other words, i’m here. i’m showing up.
i’m crazy for it, but i’m still doing it.
i’m freaking out, but it’s humbling me to my knees. i seriously doubt i’ll be at all effective in any of this if i forget to pray.

surprisingly, this newfound insecurity and flat-out terror is actually a good thing. because i finally know that i can’t do this.